Examples of Disruptive Technology

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Examples of Disruptive Technology

Disruptive technology is the term that is used to describe a new technology that displaces an already existing one. These new inventions have literally taken away the market share from the existing technology, thus making them obsolete.

Did You Know?

Clayton M. Christensen coined the termdisruptive technologies and introduced the theory in 1995 in his article,Disruptive Technologies: Catching the Wave.

Do you remember the days when you had to tune your TV and VCR to watch a movie? Or the times when you had to use the cassette player to listen to your favorite music? Today, all you need to do is to tune into your music player and listen to your favorite music while on the move! Who needs to go to a movie theater to watch a movie? If you are a big movie buff, you might go; else you can sit back on your couch and enjoy the movie on your TV sets, thanks to the direct-to-home services. Such technologies have swiped out the old technology and replaced it with the new one. However, please note that upgrading a particular technology cannot be termed as disruptive as the old technology might still be used. Only the technologies which are no longer used are included in this category. We, at Buzzle, bring to you such disruptive technologies that have changed the market scenario for the older technologies!

* Note: The technologies are listed in no particular order.

Disruptive Technology Examples

Digital Receiver

Digital Receiver

Remember the old video players that you had to tune in to, to watch your favorite movies? You had to rent a video tape and plug it in the video cassette recorder to watch the movie! Today, all you need is a digital receiver, and you can watch the latest movies without having to leave your home. Quite an achievement, I must say.

Pen Drive

Pen drive

Data storage devices have evolved in no time. In the good old days, we had floppy drives that were our source of storing data. When you needed to give your friend an important document, you burned it on a floppy disk and gave it to him. Then came the age of CDs. Here, you could burn data of high Kb on the disk, but the CD could be used only once. Then came the era of DVD and rewritable CD/DVD. Today, we have moved even further where we have USB devices, which can store data in GB sizes. Think of it — once upon a time, we were supposedly happy using floppy disks!

Camcoder/Digital Camera


Clicking a picture and getting to view the pic used to take days in olden times. By olden times I mean, a generation or two before the current one. We had to load our cameras with a film roll, and when the capacity of the roll was finished, we had to give it for developing. Then, only after a few days/weeks, we could get to see the pics. Today, we can see the pictures as soon as we click them. No more waiting for days on end! And if we don’t like the pic, we can delete it then and there. Quite an advancement!

Cell Phone

Cell phone

Earlier, when we needed to send a message to someone, we had to page them! Remember the tiny devices, which displayed only messages? Pagers were the “in” thing when they were launched! But the drawback was, you couldn’t reply through pagers. Later, two-way pagers were developed, but it was too late by then. Mobile phones had already arrived. With smartphones being the new ones on the block, pagers are a thing of passé‎.

MP3 Players

Mp3 Player

Our earlier generations had to carry those huge portable stereo systems to listen to their favorite music while traveling. Then came the Walkman era that took over the stereo systems. However today, the market lead is taken over by small, finger-sized MP3 players. These small devices can store GBs of data, and they fit comfortably in your pocket too! What a way of downsizing technology!

LED Screens


With the latest innovations in technologies, our television sets have become slimmer. Earlier, the TV screens were huge with protrusions from the rear side. However today, the screens are LED-based, thus appearing sleek and raising the bar for quality products. This brought a revolution in television screens, and soon, computer screens implemented the same.

Light-emitting Diodes (LED Bulbs)

Light Bulb

Incandescent light bulbs were considered to be the only source of street lighting until the last few years. Nowadays, LED bulbs are used for lighting purposes. It is due to low power consumption and high quality of these bulbs that they have proved disruptive to light bulbs. Many automobile manufacturers have also gone ahead and replaced the traditional bulbs with LED lights for lighting purposes.



In the olden days, at the time of emergencies, the only source of passing on a message to relatives/friends were through postcards. You needed to write down the message, and the receiver would be able to read the sent message only after a few days. The invention of email turned out to be disruptive for postcards. Now with emails, the messages are delivered on time, and the receiver instantly receives the message in seconds!

Soon-to-be Disruptive Technologies

The technology makers are disruptive in more than one technology that they specialize in. These companies have made it big in a certain domain and introduced disruptive technologies that have become market leaders. Let us take a look at these companies and their inventions. [Source: 50 Disruptive Companies, MIT Technology Review, 2013]

Audi: It is working on creating a laser-scanner road detector that will be fitted in the vehicle’s front grille. Audi is targeting the autonomous market segment.

Apple: It is planning to introduce Retina displays to iPads and MacBooks as well.

Novartis: It is coming up with a continuous drug-manufacturing technology that will combine compounds in a novel way to make new drugs.

Philips: It is developing an LED bulb whose operation can be controlled by using your tablets and phones.

IBM: If this invention works out, then data will be transmitted via light! This is what IBM is aiming at.

ABB: It is trying to improvise a circuit breaker for high-voltage DC lines that are used in renewable energy sources.

Aero: It is working towards streaming local TV programs on mobile devices.

Corning: It is developing a new flexible glass that is thin and strong enough to be used in touchscreen devices.

Kymeta: The company is developing a small antenna that will replace the dish antennas, so that the planes will get better broadband service.

Leap Motion: With its latest technology, we will not need a keyboard for performing many operations. It has developed a controller that will be controlled by gestures made in air!

With so many latest technologies being developed every day, the ones that are currently used are bound to become obsolete in the coming years. Their market share will reduce and will be replaced by new and more effective technologies.

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